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Italian Table Wine

Well here goes something; Without any pricing guidelines,. I'll circler around the $10-15 range, and some of these should hit. Librandi Ciro Rosso, Illuminati/Masciarelli/Valle Reale/Zaccagnini Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Michele Chiarlo Barbera, Cusumano Nero d'Avola, Melini Chianti Borgo d'Elsa, Masi Vapolicella, Mezzacorona Pino Nerot, Umani Ronchi Rosso Conero, Tormaresca Neprica, Cantele Negroamaro. Ecc.

Mar 19, 2015
bob96 in Wine

St. Joseph's sfinci

Love sfingi--very good at the very Sicilian Villabate Pastry Shop in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, especially. The fluted pastry filled with pastry cream at top here is actually a zeppola (zeppole, plural) di San Giuseppe. It shell is often baked, not fried, and not a yeast dough, and is not like the zeppole sold in pizzerie.

Mar 19, 2015
bob96 in Manhattan

Bon Appetite says Sirarcha's "Totally Over." Agree?

Media like BA need to think they make...and un-make. When what they mostly do is follow.

Why not? ... Stuffed peppers

I cleave to my grandmother's Calabrese stuffing--breadcrumbs, black olives, anchovies, garlic, capers, parsley, olive oil. Maybe a crushed tomato on top.

Mar 04, 2015
bob96 in Home Cooking
1

Balaboosta: Some Good but Very Lacking

Sounds like the p[ublisher did a disservice to the book--almost every "adventurous" cookbook has those features you missed. Shame. Interesting that the title of the book (and the author's restaurant) is a classic Yiddish term, one that a Mizrahi (Eastern) Jewish person would not haver roots in. It's also key to note that the author is of Yemeni-Persian Jewish background, in a subset of generic "MIddle Eastern" foodways. We've come to expect that omnibus palate of olives, hummus, etc., but Armenians and Lebanese and Turks (to say nothing of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in this broad, big region) do eat differently. Tabbouleh is not Yemeni or even Turkish, but Lebanese; and while Greeks and Italians, to draw an analogy,are generally "Mediterranean" they have more differences than similarities in their traditional food cultures.

Mar 02, 2015
bob96 in Home Cooking

Rioja sales reach new high in 2014 -- but dropped in the U.S.?

Actually, there were tons of Riojas, including some at high price points and distinctive styles, like those older whites from Ygay and Murrieta on NY shop shelves, before there were hardly any of those spiffily-labelled mass market garnachas. In fact, I early saw much beyond Rioja. hope the presence of value wines can lead to a strong base for other Spanish wines; it'd be interesting to see who or how many may have moved from, say, Cavit to Jermann… by starting with Cavit.

Feb 19, 2015
bob96 in Wine

Rioja sales reach new high in 2014 -- but dropped in the U.S.?

Just based on visual evidence and on some changes in my everyday wine buying patterns, there's a growing value-price Spanish wine presence, from a range of areas (Castilla, Toro, Valencia, etc), featuring garnacha+tempranillo+other varieties blends. Some of it;'s very nice and competes more than effectively against similar California styles/prices, and in some ways more attractively than some warhorse Italians in these categories. Not sure what the trends are for higher end Priorat or Ribera del Duero, though; they don't seem to be moving out very widely. There is some wonderfully characteristic rioja (Muga, for one) that are superb values.

Feb 19, 2015
bob96 in Wine

Bucatini Pasta

Most every brand makes it--including La Molisana, Del Verde, Garofalo, Setaro. As Maureen noted, it may still be called perciatelli, which it was more frequently when I was growing up.

Feb 19, 2015
bob96 in General Topics

Sid’ Prospective List For Rome

See what you mean. When handled well, as in a good Chinon, it works. Otherwise.

Feb 12, 2015
bob96 in Italy

Sid’ Prospective List For Rome

Cantine Grotta del Sole makes a nice piedirosso from Campi Flegrei. A Casa, La Rivolta, and Guardiense make attractive versions, too. It's an oddly endearing variety--I like it in the same way I like Loire reds. It has a distinctive profile, with perhaps more than a touch of green stalk.

Feb 12, 2015
bob96 in Italy
1

Is Costco Making Us Fat?

The data are broad ecological correlations, and the study seems not to distinguish Walmart and other big box grocers from Costco and the membership stores. There are 3400 Walmart supercenters in the US, compared to 420 Costco stores. Walmart sells more than 50% of all US retail groceries, and carries 12x more total products than Costco. Supermarkets average 25x more products than Costco. Walmart sales overall have slumped, and Costco's grown, thanks in part to serious stocking and staffing issues at Walmart that have driven customers away. My point is that the study lumps together two different enough shopping environments, and pushes they boundaries of comparability. Is price always everything? I don't think so, especially when the limited (and changing/seasonal) offerings at Costco, the lack of impulse-level volume units, and a $55/yr membership can be argued to have perhaps different effects on obesity-producing shopping patterns. On a micro behavioral level, Costco's "dangerous" products simply cannot compare in number or selection to those in the middle aisles of supermarkets and general big box retailers--all those bags of chips, candies, sodas, and frozen chicken poppers and cheese wiz that millions buy every day.

Dessert when main course is waffles?

Bartlett pears poached in wine, maybe a moscato. Good cheese and apples. A fennel and orange salad.

Feb 11, 2015
bob96 in Home Cooking

Is Costco Making Us Fat?

Restaurants are another story, with portion sizes growing, but Costco is certainly much less of a problem than regular supermarkets. Simple. Costco choices are very limited, for one---compare the amount of junk stuff at any normal large supermarket and see--from gather miles of frozen prepared biomes to candies, sweet drinks, prepared anything,and other stuff in individual serving portions. Costco gives big breaks on organic, healthy alternatives (we get soy milk, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, fruit juices, canned tuna in spring water, spices, some fruits and vegetables and other staples there almost exclusively); produce is normally well chosen and in good condition; meats and fish, while basic, are usually well-handled and fairly priced. Costco is in fact a far less rewarding hunting ground for obesity-enhancing foods than any average Kroger.

Feb 11, 2015
bob96 in Food Media & News
1

Best not-"third wave" espresso/coffee?

I think your argument works b set comparing within categories--McDonalds to Five Guys, say, rather than to a Minetta Tavern. It's within broad categories that taste and a commitment to pleasure and even quality can best be measured: I can have enormous respect and enthusiasm for, say, a really good coop Cotes du Rhone--for, among other things, being better than it need be--as I can for, say, an excellent biodynamic estate Gigondas at many times the price. Same for a terrific mass (or mid-market) coffee versus an expensive estate version. But that's all a pretty obvious thing. Or should be. I think we can all share a commitment to seeking honesty, pleasure, and quality within the food markets and realms we choose to navigate, even if personal preferences many vary wildly, since preferences are at least a function of one's personal and social position: the products we desire do not exist outside the realities (and constraints) of price, cost, privilege, and access.

Feb 10, 2015
bob96 in Manhattan

Top 10 underrated red varieties

Have enjoyed many agiorgitikos, and look forward to seeing them blossom in the international market. Nerello, of course, in Etna and Eastern Sicilians. Pineau d'Aunis, not so hot as a rose. Teroldego? Eh. Touriga? Yes. The rest? Not yet, or just maybe not ever without some compelling reason. I'm wondering if "underrated" here is a somewhat misleading term--little known might be more accurate, since many of these varieties for many are not so much critically undervalued (which assumes at least reasonable exposure and some familiarity) but simply not yet widely in play. ( I'd throw into the mix of "undervalued" castelao francese, bobal, and gaglioppo.)

Feb 09, 2015
bob96 in Wine

Move Over Kale: The Next Super Food is Okra!!

Horrible stuff. Besides, I thought collards were the new kale.

Feb 09, 2015
bob96 in Home Cooking

Best not-"third wave" espresso/coffee?

Can't argue with that. I guess that analogy also makes me a modern olive oil person, and that's just fine, too.

Feb 07, 2015
bob96 in Manhattan

Best not-"third wave" espresso/coffee?

Not sure what it means to be a "modern coffee" person, but I'm usually content with a ristretto in most (yes, not all) decent bars in urban Italy. having grown up with Medaglia d'Oro in a battered aluminum Neapolitan caffettiere. This might be make me not a coffee person by the standards of this thread, and so be it. But I am fascinated by the density of this discussion. No one I know in Italy--not a wildly large sample, granted, and most of them not food professional friends and relatives, almost all of them south of Naples--talks much about the caffe they drink. But the drink of choice shared with me, paid for by them, is always dark, syrupy, never bitter, and delicious. They know where to go, and how to taste. It's drunk in a few minutes, and then we leave.

Feb 06, 2015
bob96 in Manhattan

Best not-"third wave" espresso/coffee?

I'm really enjoying this crash course in coffee agronomy/hydraulics/organoleptics. But I have to admit to ignorance: that I still don't know why or how a superb espresso can be had almost at will, without most of this strategic planning, on any street in Naples. Or at almost any AutoGrille south of Rome.

Feb 05, 2015
bob96 in Manhattan

The state of wine drinking in America today

Thanks for the data, from one of those who judge only impressionistically. There's an ocean of pinot grigio out there in supermarkets as well as wine retailers, from Santa Margherita and Felluga to magnums of industrial stuff. Even higher end shops will often showcase pinot grigio almost to the exclusion of other Italian whites. As for Loires: good luck finding a selection across price ranges (and find me a competitively priced Bergerac blanc or Entre-deux-Mers, please!) Here in North Carolina we also see an explosion in moscato and other sweetish whites and reds, but that's another story. And from eyeballs alone, it appears there's more pinot noir at all price levels available than zin.

Jan 27, 2015
bob96 in Wine

Scallions in Italian cooking?

That salad of orange-red onion-fennel-black olive is a classic. Additionally from Sicily and Calabria, a tomato-red onion (w oregano and sometimes tuna under olive oil) is everywhere. My grandfather would enjoy red onion alone in vinegar, olive oil, and oregano as a condiment to soften the hard bread biscuits called freselle.

Jan 26, 2015
bob96 in Home Cooking

Best not-"third wave" espresso/coffee?

St.Ambroeus, Zibbetto

Jan 26, 2015
bob96 in Manhattan

Long Gone But Not Forgotten! Manhattan Memories

Yes, remember Mon Paris, one of many similar French places all thru the city, and now virtually all gone.

Jan 25, 2015
bob96 in Manhattan

Best restaurant w/ Tom Colicchio

Format's so damn tired by now--tried to watch but gave up.

Jan 23, 2015
bob96 in Food Media & News

Tips for eating alone in Italy?

Your experience will vary, of course, but had to post this lovely account by Mark Rotella (author of "Stolen Figs") about his experience da solo in Reggio Calabria.http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/26/tra...

Jan 23, 2015
bob96 in Italy

Great Italian in Dyker Heights

Sorry to hear about Tommaso's--an icon of ambition and wine in the area for years. I'd only add Il Colosseo on 18th and 77th for very good brick oven pizza, grilled fish, and pasta--not exactly old red sauce but newish red sauce, filled with large Italian families.

Jan 21, 2015
bob96 in Outer Boroughs

Where to buy Dalmatian Pršut (ham)

Not at all sure how similar they are, but Speck is also dried and smoked ham, from Alto Adige, and sold at Eataly and probably at DiPalo, too.

Jan 21, 2015
bob96 in Outer Boroughs

Chicken Cacciatore?

This is the basic recipe, from an expert. There's another template, without tomatoes, but with garlic, rosemary, and white wine. But Schwartz gives all you need to get started.No cheese.
http://www.thefoodmaven.com/naples/ca...

Jan 20, 2015
bob96 in Home Cooking

Anyone else over Guy Fierri?

He's harmless, especially in the context of the other loud, sweaty, and overacting guys who populate these food and travel shows-Richman, Zimmmern, the new idiot on Booze Traveller, all the other laff riot bros who get conjured out of nowhere to run from food truck to food truck stuffing their mugs. Fieri's show at least shed light on some terrific places and people, who likely would not have had much exposure. Yeah, he gets recycled into every corner--just like every FN celeb-host-chef. How many times and ways can we watch Bobby or Giada or Anne or Alex or Ted pronounce and proclaim? DDD can be an oddly refreshing change from the master template of robotically staged and ridiculous competitions: watch one or two of these with the sound off, and you can learn to direct any segment yourself.

It's MASCARPONE!

The British have their own struggles, with "pasta" top start with.

Jan 17, 2015
bob96 in Not About Food